The official "Emoji list" for 2018 rolled out last week, and it added 157 new pixillated cartoon characters to the vast range of items you can include in your text messages, including kangaroos, softballs, comic book-esque phrases, and your fair reporter's personal favorite: people who sport ginger hair.
But, obviously, the official emoji people can't please everyone, and some social justice warriors are particularly angry that there are no new "transgender" or "gender non-binary" emoji people — and that there's no way to separate emoji couples to create non-hetero-normative combinations, and no "pregnant man."
That's right. No pregnant man.
"Since the 2015 introduction of Fitzpatrick scale modifier, which allowed emoji to have skin tones different to the Simpsonesque default, many have assumed further emoji releases would gradually decouple the pictograms from a limited — and in many senses Western, male and heteronormative — vision of humanity," ABC News reports, in a hard-hitting expose on inclusive cartoon pictures of humans (or the lack thereof).
The problem, activists claim, stems from a decision made way back in 2016, when the Unicode Technical Committee, which designs and introduces new emoji, decided to include female emoji in their annual rollout.
"Adding gender to Unicode was a massive mistake right from the start," one non-binary emoji activist told ABC.
Ultimately, adding gender led Unicode to add couples and families, and although the selection of emoji now includes pictures of both gay and straight couples, and emoji can be adjusted to show skin and hair color, there aren't yet individual emoji for every single option on the "gender scale." For example, there's no option to have a polyamorous group, and there's no pregnant man, who might accurately depict the trials of a transgender female giving birth while appearing to be male.
The pregnant man is very important. "Let me make this very clear," one activist "wrote in an official submission to the Consortium," according to ABC. "If Unicode wants proper gender representation in emoji, it needs to be able to represent pregnant people who aren't female."
There aren't a lot of those, she admits. And the suggestion doesn't quite make sense. If you're pregnant, you aren't completely transitioned to male, because only females of the species have the necessary plumbing to accomplish the particular feat of reproduction.
In fact, according to Unicode, that's actually the problem: there just aren't enough people who are both male and pregnant to justify creating a specific emoji.
Fortunately there are now enough gingers.